Today we’d like to introduce you to Sahffi Lynne.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I started as a French horn player, attending the Peabody Conservatory for my undergraduate degree in French horn performance and later moving to New York to study with the horn teacher at The Juilliard School of Music. I had worked hard my whole life to get to that level, yet once I got there, I was confused and sad to discover that I was extremely unhappy.
Music became competitive and no longer the fun, collaborative experience I always enjoyed. I was very confused as to why I was so unhappy because I knew I wanted to be a musician since I was 5 years old. Back then, my super cool cousin would let me play his drum set to KISS, and I felt the power and love of music flow through my veins! I longed for that feeling again.
I made the difficult decision to quit graduate school and play the horn and somehow I landed a position as a music therapist for mentally handicapped adults. I loved sharing music’s power and watching how it made people smile, laugh, and enjoy the moment.
However, my initial love was calling my heart, so I guess it was inevitable that after a couple of years I left music therapy, got a job as a server, and joined the rock band that the guys in the kitchen had formed. It was the mid-90 and they told me they were looking for a “chick singer.” Of course, back in the ’90s, “chick” singers were on fire, and I wanted to be a part of it!
As you can imagine, after such intense training on the French horn and the start of a promising career as a music therapist, my parents and my friends were quite worried about me choosing the path of a rock and roll singer. In fact, I was not the healthiest at this point in my life, as I was (or I should say, I wasn’t) dealing with sexual trauma from my younger years. I had not yet told anyone about it and I was drowning my pain of the trauma in drugs and alcohol with the band.
Gratefully, during this time I also wrote my very first song, and I realized I actually loved singing and songwriting.
This renewed passion got me motivated to reach for health, and I started attending yoga and group meditation classes.
As I continued on my path of learning to sing, play guitar, and write songs, I also had day jobs that I hoped one day would help me as a full-time musician. I worked as a prison librarian, facing my fears and finding strength and courage in the face of violence; I worked as a secretary for an accountant so I could learn how to file taxes as a business owner; I worked in fundraising arms of non-profits to learn how to raise money and motivate supporters, and I worked as an Office Manager for a dental office to get comfortable in a management role.
During this time I also got married and had a son (who is now 18!). When my son was 2 years old, I found the courage and strength to start my singer/songwriter career. Sadly, my lifestyle was not aligning with my marriage, and we divorced when he was 6.
For the past 12 years, I have been a full-time musician, releasing six independent albums and enjoying collaborations with many friends in many genres, most notably landing a #1 song in Botswana in 2010 with my house music producer friend N’dinga Gaba called “Summer Breeze.”
I also have become passionate about singing, studying with many teachers, and realizing that it was my voice that actually led me to heal my mind, body, and spirit from my trauma. For the past 7 years, I have taught my own “Vocal Ladder” method of singing where I teach my students to use their bodies as instruments to find their authentic expression. Each rung of the Vocal Ladder aligns with one of the 7-main chakras in the body, so we also uncover and discover how singing can heal our emotional bodies as well. When we align our physical body with our emotional body, we reach the top of the ladder of the full expression of our voice. My vocal studio is called “Vocalize Your Soul.”
It wasn’t until landing in Peru in 2015, however, that my experience, traumas, and the musical journey started colliding and making complete sense. I had journeyed from classical music, to rock and roll, to folk, to house music, to being a singer/songwriter, and now I found myself being called by plant medicine to offer music as medicine.
Now at 50 years old, I can see my life’s journey has been a clear path to lead me to this moment in my life. I learned how to offer music as prayer through classical music; I have learned how music heals through my work as a music therapist; I have learned how to sustain myself as an artist through the day jobs I had as a younger person; and I have healed through the practices of meditation, breathwork, singing, yoga, music, and plant medicines, to heal my mind, body, and soul. I am immensely grateful and happy to share this journey with my clients and students and I am very happy to be a full-time music mama.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I don’t know anyone, especially artists, who don’t have struggles along the way. In fact, I believe the struggles in my life were to prepare me for the work I do today as a medicine musician and vocal coach.
Many of my struggles were outside forces, as society is not designed to support artists and musicians in a complete way. I also realize I did not have the mental health support I needed as a young person to help me deal with sexual trauma as a teenager. I almost took my own life when I was 20, yet I am grateful for my resilient spirit and for music to keep me trying new things and reaching towards a goal of becoming a full-time musician “someday.”
I am super grateful that “someday” is today, and I am grateful for my younger self for not giving up! I can see now how all the struggles and traumas I have endured have made me who I am today, and I am truly grateful for it all.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am a medicine musician and vocal coach, offering my music, meditations, ceremonies, and teachings as medicine to illuminate our connection to our hearts. I believe when we connect with our own hearts, our own truth, and our own desires and passions, we can more easily connect with others, and the outside world, and find peace in our hearts to truly live in love.
I offer private voice lessons and group vocal workshops to those interested in deepening their relationship with their voice. I teach my own “Vocal Ladder” method of voice to uncover and discover how using your body as an instrument can be healing and freeing. My studio is called “Vocalize Your Soul,” and I teach online via Zoom as well as in my studio in Ellicott City, Maryland.
I also run monthly meditations, individual and small-group ceremonies, and yearly retreats under my business name “Illuminate Your Connection.” I work in conjunction with psychedelically-trained therapists and psychologists to help people heal from their traumas and reclaim their hearts. My own experiences have shown me that with a combination of creativity, insight, and professional support, one can truly heal trauma in the body and mind and reclaim their birthright of living in love.
Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
As a child, I identified more as a boy than a girl. I played with boys, wore boy clothes, played with cars, and often even stuffed my pants to feel more like a boy. I loved dirt bikes and rock and roll, cars, and climbing trees. I didn’t think of myself as a girl and often was mistaken for a boy, which made me quite happy!
Once puberty hit, I remember thinking, “oh, I’m a girl. I’m a girl and a boy. OK!” Of course, that didn’t make much sense in the 80s, and it took me until I was 44 years old to understand that I am a non-binary person!
However, I am also a “straight woman” which always made me quite confused as a young person, especially after enduring sexual trauma from boys. I tried to be gay in my early 20s, but I never could make it past talking with women, I just wasn’t attracted to them that way! (I have told my son this story, and he loves it because it proves to him that you can’t “choose” to be gay! Which of course is true!)
I truly thought I was a mistake of nature for most of my life, and I struggled with confusion, depression, and in my relationships, often being called “not feminine enough” or “emasculating.”
I realize now I am a beautiful, unique, non-binary bi-gendered woman, and I use the pronouns she/they.
- New Voice Student Special: $225 for 3 lessons (20% discount)
- One-hour Voice Lesson: Sliding scale, $88-111
- Monthly New Moon Medicine Music Meditation, online and in person: By donation
- Private or group ceremony work: inquire
- Solo/Band Performance: inquire
- Website: https://www.sahffi.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sahffi
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sahffi
- Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/sahffi
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/sahffilynne
- SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/sahffi
- Other: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sahffi-lynne-5a955b36/
Shane Gardner and Lucas de Britto